Ethnic minorities make up just 3.3% of the construction industry workforce, compared to the national average of 7.9%, according to a report published today by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
The report also identified that ‘racist banter’ is still tolerated in some areas of the industry, and just under half of respondents (47%) felt that racist behaviour was likely to go unchecked.
In response, Alan Ritchie, general secretary of the Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians (Ucatt), has called for a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to racism across the industry.
He said: “The EHRC has found that pockets of racism remain [in the construction industry]. This is totally unacceptable. All sides of the industry must come together and stamp out racism once and for all. A zero-tolerance approach must be adopted.”
Some 40% of respondents also felt that the industry discriminates against ethnic minorities in its employment practices. Kay Allen, a commissioner at the EHRC, added that firms within the industry need to act upon the report’s findings.
She said: “Our report presents a call to action to the industry to build on its good work to date and address the causes of under-representation and continuing discrimination taking place in parts of the industry.”
The percentage of ethnic minority representation in the construction industry has improved, however, with the figure standing at only 1.9% in 1999.